For better or worse I travel regularly for work but there's usually a chance to steal a little time to see the country side wherever I am. For me tourism always has a food component and while I was visiting Belfast I discovered a thriving market in the center of the city.
Built in the 19th century the market has that distinct Victorian look of community buildings in the United Kingdom but word is that the site was the location of the central Belfast market as far back as the 1600s. Named the best indoor market in the UK in 2014 this is a great stop for the food tourist to Northern Ireland.
Open every weekend the market is a lively shopping mecca thrumming with tourists and locals buying fresh ingredients and eating lunch. On Saturdays the market offers local food and crafts as well as live music, making it a great stop during a day out in Belfast. On Sunday the emphasis is more on local Crafts - making it a good stop for souvenirs but less lunching options.
There are a number of competing Hop On Hop Off bus tours in Belfast all of which stop conveniently outside the market. Be warned though at lunch time these buses are packed to the brim with hungry site seers who pour in to the market 100 at a time. For the best choice of goods and to avoid the crowds try going to the market early while tourists are still off seeing the Titanic Museum. Make sure to get to the market before 3pm as vendors will be clearing out and the market closing between 3-4pm.
The open warehouse style market makes it easy for vendors to load in and load out and provides large open seating areas to enjoy a warm snack. It reminds me of Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia with stall owners hawking their wares and a happy bustle of commerce.
As well as the standard Green Grocer fare - fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat there are a number of fantastic specialty stalls and global specialties.
Local farmers and producers sell small batch items like jams, chutneys pickles and cakes. My pick of the Irish baked goods has to be the slices though - buttery rich jam, fruit and nut slices abound and all are delicious. This is a country that obviously relishes in morning and afternoon teas.
Innumerate bakers offer fresh loaves, for a taste of the local stuff try the Irish Soda Bread - delicious with hot warm soups and stews. Regular European migrants and recently resurging economies mean that there are many Italian and French bakery options. Some of the bakers also offer fresh sandwiches and pressed paninis.
Hot food stalls offer international snack foods like pies, pasties, crepes, paella and curries.
Irish beef is definitely worth stopping for - tasty and grass fed I've never eaten so many good burgers as I did in Ireland beating out the US at their own game.
The market is also a great place to pick up spices and hard to find ingredients. Wagyu beef, fresh seafood, exotic spices and more are fantastic for the cook or the foodie in your life.
There's wifi in the markets as well as a few stalls selling battery packs and sim cards which also makes it a convenient stop for travellers. If you get sick of the crowds there's a brasserie that overlooks the market and a great little pub across the road.
All in all a great stop with lively community and excellent food.
St George's Market
East Bridge St
Belfast BT1 3NQ
Great for tourists